Thanks to the speed, ease, and accessibility of sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and LinkedIn, social media is a great tool for widespread communication. So, what happens if such innovative technology is taken away? Can we survive?
In a world where information is updated and released every second, there’s no denying that the obligation for constant electronic vigilance can be overwhelming and time consuming. Perhaps this is what inspired Harrisburgh University of Science and Technology to conduct an experiment where students and staff were unable to access social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter for an entire week. This unique venture made controversial headlines, pronouncing it “a terrible thing and an infringement upon people’s rights”, but Provost Eric Darr said it wasn’t geared to affect the University negatively:
The exercise that began Monday is not a punishment for the school’s 800 students, nor a precursor to a ban, but a way for people to think critically about the prevalence of social media.
The blackout comes on the heels of a report that Web users in the U.S. spend more time socializing on Facebook than searching with Google, according to data released last week from researchers at comScore Inc.
Still, Darr said he can’t believe the controversy generated in the Twitterverse, blogosphere and academia, with some accusing the school of inflicting “a terrible thing and an infringement upon people’s rights.”
“By and large, the students are supportive of the whole exercise and don’t get so worked up over it,” Darr said.
On campus, attempts to log in to MySpace or LinkedIn return the message: “This domain is blocked.” E-mail, texting and other Web surfing is still allowed, but not instant-messaging.
Student Ashley Harris, 22, said the blackout has freed her to concentrate on her classwork instead of toggling on her laptop between social networks and the lesson at hand.
“I feel obligated to check my Facebook. I feel obligated to check my Twitter. Now I don’t,” Harris said. “I can just solely focus.”
We have discussed the social media’s ability to provide users with efficient, organized, well-informed outlets of communication is profound. Robby Slaughter, founder and principal of AccelaWork, also believes investing time in social media is quite beneficial. Below is an excerpt from one of his blog posts:
. . . so many of our critical roles in our business and personal lives rely upon social dynamics. Sales and marketing comes from building rapport; research and development arises from teams that foster creativity and embrace both failure and success. Routine tasks are done with more enthusiasm when we have someone to share them with. Friendships and families are built not on procedures but on socialization. We need each other not just to grow, but to survive.
The belief that social media is a waste of time is based on a misconception of social media. Although these are services made possible through cool technology, they are powered by our fundamental propensity to connect. We need to work together. Social media merely makes doing so easier and faster than ever before.
Building and maintaining relationships is a task we strive to achieve every day. Offline, we partake in meetings, phone conversations, and social gatherings to nurture communication and reach individuals on a personal level. Online, we utilize email and social media to bridge the gap. When these interactions are combined together they will maximize results and satisfy an individual’s efforts. In the end, it’s simply important to recognize that communication, in any form, is most effective when balanced correctly.
Looking to enhance your offline interactions by becoming more productive in social media? Consider contacting our business process transformation firm to learn more about our services.